The day of June 17, 2013 has seen the worst ever disaster in India in many years. The fierce cloudburst in Kedarnath and the continuous downpour have resulted in floods and the subsequent disaster at the famous chardham of India. The official number of deaths in the Uttarakhand disaster stands at 822 as of last report while the unofficial figures may cross more than 10,000. The worst affected being Kedarnath, where the only remains being the temple with more than 50 bodies recovered from the temple itself. There used to be plenty of shops and houses in and around the temple which are completely been washed away by floods. While less number of bodies is discovered in the holy towns of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Gangotri and Yamunotri, many still are reported to be missing. One can imagine the amount of destruction as just a couple of days back over 50 bodies were found in Haridwar which are supposed to be washed away as a result of floods.
Who is to be blamed?
While environmentalists believe that the ecological imbalance created by the Hydropower projects is the primary reason behind the flashfloods, some blame the poor government policies and the failure to provide immediate relief to the survivors is the main reason for mounting number of deaths. This year, monsoon in India has arrived two weeks in advance and the month of June is considered to be the peak season when most of the pilgrims prefer to visit there. Government of Uttarakhand has failed to take immediate steps to make an accurate prediction of the weather and inform the tourists and locals against the danger. The increasing death toll is also due to the fact that the floods and landslides have damaged the roads making the places absolutely inaccessible and disconnecting the places from rest of the country.
Indian paramilitary forces and ITBP who are carrying out the rescue operations are facing uphill tasks as the roads of longer stretches are washed away making it impossible for the vehicles to reach to the virtually inaccessible areas and provide relief operations. The steep terrains and the complicated range of Himalayas also made it difficult for the choppers to land and provide essential commodities and rescue the stranded people. Indian military forces which is perhaps carrying out its biggest ever disaster relief operations have said that they have deployed thousands of soldiers and hundreds of choppers for this purpose. The relief and rescue operations were also hit by bad weather and more landslides which have made it difficult to evacuate the stranded pilgrims resulting in more number of deaths. Government has also airdropped deodar wood, ghee, etc. to conduct the mass cremation of those whose bodies were found in and around Kedarnath town. Team of over 40 forensic experts was also sent to take the DNA samples of those whose bodies were found in and around Kedarnath town.
Uttarakhand floods are considered to be one of the worst in Indian history in terms of properties and life loss. The final numbers are yet to be released by the government.
Uttarakhand flood photos